Rate of positivity in COVID-19 tests continues to rise in Riley County

(Illustration by Abigail Compton | Collegian Media Group)

Over the weekend, Riley County added 38 positive COVID-19 cases to its total, now up to 222 recorded positives.

The local percent of positivity from last week was 18.75 percent, emergency preparedness coordinator for public health Andrew Adams said. About three weeks ago, the positivity rate was about two percent, local health officer Julie Gibbs said previously.

A large volume of the new cases continue to be people between the age of 18 and 24, a press release from the health department says. People in this age group might have less severe illnesses from COVID-19, but there’s no way to know what long term health impacts could be in store for people who have mild cases, Adams said.

(Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)
During the month of June, COVID-19 cases have increased rapidly. (Infographic by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

The recent spike in cases is cause for concern, Adams said, but can be reversed by better voluntary compliance with health recommendations.

“We need to do a better job of what … we were doing in the beginning,” Gibbs said.

Phase out is still possible, Gibbs said, but moving back to more restrictive health mandates isn’t off the table if cases continue to rise.

Currently, the Kansas Department of Health and Environment is monitoring four known outbreaks — three of which are related to the Aggieville business district. Another outbreak is associated with the Kansas State football team. As of last Friday, 14 players had tested positive.

There is a new possible outbreak in the county. It was announced after eight people with Riley County Emergency Medical Services tested positive, but it is not an official outbreak.

On Monday, Gov. Laura Kelly announced a new mask-wearing mandate that will affect every county in the state beginning Friday. This order will require face masks in both indoor and outdoor public settings, Vivienne Uccello, city of Manhattan public information officer, said.

This order shouldn’t change what you’re doing, Gibbs said, since masks have been recommended in public for months now.

Businesses with questions about best practices should call the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce at 785-776-8829 or email info@manhattan.org. Additional resources for reopening local businesses are available at regionreimagined.org.

Individuals with symptoms are encouraged to call the screening line at 785-323-6400. The screening line is available weekdays from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. through the end of June. People with non-emergent questions about COVID-19 in Riley County should send an email to rileycountycovid19@gmail.com.

To be tested in Riley County, individuals must present at least two symptoms of COVID-19. The complete list of known symptoms is available on the health department website.

My name is Kaylie McLaughlin and I'm the managing editor and audience engagement manager of the Collegian. Previously, I've been the editor-in-chief and the news editor. In the past, I have also contributed to the Royal Purple Yearbook and KKSU-TV. Off-campus, you can find my bylines in the Wichita Eagle, the Shawnee Mission Post and KSNT News. I grew up just outside of Kansas City in Shawnee, Kansas. I’m a senior in digital journalism with a minor in French and a secondary focus in international and area studies. As a third-generation K-Stater, I bleed purple and my goal is to serve the Wildcat community with accurate coverage.